Over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, numerous countries have made vaccination mandatory for medical staff, care workers, or older people over a certain age.
But today, Austria became the first state first in the European Union (EU) to broaden the vaccine mandate to cover the entire adult population of the country.
Austria’s chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, announced the measure in November of last year, as COVID-19 spiked again, putting hospitals under further pressure.
At the time of the announcement, Austria had one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with only 65% inoculated against COVID-19. As of February 2, over 75% of Austrians are now fully vaccinated.
New Austrian law has come into effect on Saturday, February 5, making it mandatory for everyone over the age of 18 to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The measure had been delayed by the legislative procedure. It was due to come into force on Tuesday, but only cleared its last parliamentary hurdle on Thursday and signed into law by Van der Bellen on Friday.
Despite the law coming into force today, Austrian authorities will not start checking residents for their vaccination status until mid-March.
Austrian citizens and residents who refuse to get vaccinated, will be subject to heavy fines ranging from €600 to €3,600. Medical exemptions apply; pregnant women are also excluded from the measure.
New vaccination mandate set to expire in January 2024, but it could be ended earlier if the pandemic allows.